For the thirteenth consecutive week, the national average price of gasoline has dropped, falling 3 cents versus a week ago to $2.22 per gallon to the lowest level in over two years according to GasBuddy data compiled from more than 10 million individual price reports.
The median price per gallon in the U.S., however, stands at $2.06 per gallon, as high prices in the West Coast skew the nation’s average. 42% of the nation’s gas stations are charging less than $2 per gallon today while 11 states feature averages under the $2 per gallon mark.
“After a brief hiccup that saw the nation’s average gas price rise for two days last week, the overall trend remains in favor of lower gas prices, even as oil prices have rallied. The window for cheap gas prices continues to close, however, and by mid-February will likely be completely closed- so do take advantage of the low prices while they last,” said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy. “While eleven states are seeing their statewide average under $2 per gallon, over 40% of the nation’s gas stations are selling under $2 per gallon. In fact, while the average price remains higher, the median gas price in the U.S. sits much lower, at $2.06 per gallon, largely due to high gas prices on the West Coast. However, even motorists there will see more relief in the form of lower prices.”
Oil prices have rebounded in the last week, however, so motorists may soon be seeing gas prices stabilize. A barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude oil rose to $49.53 per barrel at press time after briefly reaching $42 per barrel on Christmas Eve. The shift in mood gripping markets stems from a combination of factors which are both direct and indirect. OPEC and several other aligned producing countries have already begun drawing down 1.2 million barrels a day in production, while Canada’s Alberta government initiated its own curtailment of 325,000 barrels a day of its heavy oil as of the beginning of the year as well. Beyond fundamentals, encouraging signs of a trade meeting between the U.S. and China along with the Chinese government unveiling a broad economic stimulus package, appears to have stilled the panicked waters of the last month on both the energy futures and equities markets.
With the first day of the first full week of the new year at hand, there can be no certainty as to the direction markets will follow throughout the day. If negative, no related headlines overwhelm speculators, fundamentals may be set aside in favor of hype and innuendo. This would of course lead to trading taking a step back from the modest enthusiasm seen in early trades and over the last few trading sessions since the launch of 2019 trades. Should investors look to the broad picture on fundamentals dealing with supply and demand for oil and refined products, another winning day could be in store for markets which, at four consecutive days of gains, however modest would put energy commodities back on a winning streak not seen since mid-October.
Average gas prices moved lower in all but three states: Michigan (+9 cents), Ohio (+4 cents) and Indiana (+2 cents), areas that commonly see large price drops followed by large increases. Prices in these three states, however, led the nation with the largest drop versus one year ago: Michigan was 52 cents lower than a year ago, followed by Illinois (-49 cents), Ohio (-48 cents), Indiana (-46 cents) and Wisconsin (-45 cents). Meanwhile, some states near the West Coast were the only seeing higher prices than a year ago, led by Arizona (+30 cents), California (+21 cents), Utah (+16 cents), Nevada (+14 cents), Wyoming (+12 cents), Oregon (+8 cents), Washington (+7 cents) and Idaho (+4 cents).
States with the lowest average gas prices: Missouri ($1.84), Oklahoma ($1.85), Texas ($1.88), Louisiana ($1.88) and Mississippi ($1.89).
States with the highest average gas prices: Hawaii ($3.50), California ($3.35), Alaska ($3.06), Washington ($2.94) and Nevada ($2.85).